OAKLAND -- It was supposed to be just another day in anatomy class.
The seven-student class and their instructor had just returned from a break on Monday morning and were settling back into a lecture when they heard a loud noise, followed by the first cries.
Shouts of "Oh Jesus Christ!" and "It's a gun!"
That's how Dechen Yangzom, a 27-year-old Oakland resident, remembers it. The nursing student is being hailed as a hero after protecting her class from an advancing gunman who went on a bloody rampage that left seven dead and three wounded at Oikos University, a small private school in East Oakland.
After realizing that the noises they heard were gunfire, Yangzom said everyone dropped to the floor and hid underneath their desks. She was halfway into a crouch when she sprang toward the doorway.
"Somehow my instinct told me to close the door," said Yangzom, who like two of the victims is Tibetan, growing up in India before moving to the East Bay.
She shut the door and locked it. Her instructor told her to shut off the lights, leaving the hallway light peering through a small narrow window in the door.
Yangzom took out her cell phone and called her husband, Tashi Wangchuk.
"She called me from the classroom and said, 'Call 911,'" Wangchuk recalled. "I didn't ask any questions, I dialed right away."
Moments later, One L. Goh, 43, reportedly armed with a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, tried to get
"He came to our door and he kicked and started shooting at the door," Yangzom said.
Glass from the peering window scattered all over the darkened classroom. As the students and their teacher held their breaths, Goh gave up and moved on.
"He went to the other room, and we could hear the shooting," Yangzom said. "We were so scared, we didn't have any idea what to do."
They stayed huddled until police officers came and evacuated them.
Waiting outside was Wangchuk, who rushed to the school and heard officers saying his wife's name as he arrived.
"I thought she might be shot or something," he said. "They told me one woman saved the lives of the whole class. I asked if she was fine and they said. 'Yes.'"
Wangchuk said he was proud of his wife and said she always had shown leadership qualities. Yangzom, who didn't know the shooter, said she has been overwhelmed by the attention being showered on her, in part because her tale was a glimmer of sunlight in one of the darkest days in the city's history.
"Yesterday I wasn't feeling anything. I felt that all I did was lock the door," Yangzom said. "Now I see that if I didn't lock the door, maybe none of us are alive today."
Staff writer Kristin J. Bender contributed to this report. Robert Salonga covers public safety. Contact him at 925-943-8013. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.